Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guest Post with Erica Bauermeister Author of The School of Essential Ingredients

I'm very honored to welcome Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients for a special Guest Post here today at Redlady's Reading Room.

Last month, I shared my rave review of this wonderful book which you can read here. I have been talking about this book a lot and it is high on the list of my most favorite books that I've read this year.

As I mentioned in my review, reading The School of Essential Ingredients is like finding the perfect recipe to escape the mundane day to day fast food pace of life and cooking that many of us subscribe to. It will allow you to vicariously savor the varied ingredients in the dishes that the class create and it may even inspire you to create some of your own. If you haven't yet read this magical book, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy.

I want to thank Erica for taking the time to write a special guest post for the readers here at Redlady's Reading Room. Erica has given us an added bonus by including a very special fondue recipe taken from the book. She adds her own magical touch to the details, so please read on...


On Fondue and Magic
by Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients

People often ask me where they can find a restaurant or a cooking class like Lillian’s in The School of Essential Ingredients – a place where needs that you didn’t even know you had are met, where you realize that life can be beautiful or sad, but in any case is meant to be lived. My response is that Lillian’s is fictional, but that magical restaurants exist. Sometimes you just stumble across them.

Which leads me to fondue. In The School of Essential Ingredients, fondue is a way for Lillian’s cooking class to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so it was with a feeling of serendipity that I found myself on Valentine’s Day weekend this year in New York City with my 21-year-old daughter, trying to track down a fondue restaurant in the East Village that a friend had told her we HAD to find. It was called The Bourgeois Pig.

We decided to locate it while we were out exploring in the afternoon, just so we would know where to go that evening. We walked right by the address – no restaurant. We asked at a shop two doors down; the clerk had never heard of the place. We asked people on the street. Nothing. Finally, while getting our lunch order at a (fabulous) porchetta sandwich shop we mentioned it. Oh yes, they had heard about it. They pointed across the street to a blank building facade, its windows closed with wooden shutters. We went and found “The Bourgeois Pig” painted in small, curling letters on the door frame.

We came back at 7 pm to find magic – Paris in another century. The shutters open, candle-light flickering inside the windows. A man with a delicious resemblance to Johnny Depp standing at the door, dressed in cape and cravat, letting people in two at a time. We entered to find dim lighting, red flocked wallpaper, the tables pressed up against each other like lovers. The fondue was lush and warm and into it we dipped an incredible array of crusty bread and grapes, apple slices and roasted rosemary potatoes. The wine was cold; we talked about everything and nothing for hours; a (real) frenchman sitting at the bar sent my daughter a glass of champagne. Oh my.

Readers have been asking for recipes – so here is Helen’s fondue, with some variations as suggested by a magical evening in New York City.

~Helen’s fondue~
garlic clove, cut in half

1 1/2 cup white wine

2-3 T kirsch

1/2 lb Emmenthaler
1/2 lb Gruyere

1-2 T cornstarch

a pinch of nutmeg

Rub fondue pot with garlic clove. Add white wine and kirsch and heat. Grate cheese and put in plastic bag with cornstarch; shake until cornstarch covers cheese. Add cheese slowly to pot, stirring in a figure-8 motion. Add a small pinch of nutmeg at the end...

What shall you dip in your fondue? Try:

crusty french bread, cut in cubes


apple slices

roasted rosemary potatoes (cut new red potatoes in chunks, brush with olive oil, toss with a bit of salt and pepper and rosemary, then roast in a 375 degree oven until as soft as you like them – figure 30-45 minutes).

If you’d like to learn more about The School of Essential Ingredients, you can check out Other recipes are being sprinkled throughout the internet and will eventually be compiled on my website...


  1. Fantastic post! This brings back memories for me. The best fondue restaurant we've ever eaten at was in Annecy, France. We sat outside, along the canal and watched the traffic go by. It was magical. I think we need to make fondue tonight!

  2. There would be no other way to describe that fondue restaurant than magical. The Johnny Depp look alike would certainly be a bonus to the dining experience! What a lovely post by the author of a truly lovely book. Thank you!

  3. Erica made me want to run to that quaint little restaurant!! What a great guest post!! Fondue..sounds delicious and if Johnny Depp is serving it to me I'm sure that it would be beyond the moon!! I loved this post Bonnie!!

  4. Bonnie, sounds like the author is as wonderful as the book :-) How nice to write a guest post. How I wish I had known about this restaurant before the NYC visit with my daughter last summer!! I love fondue and received a pot as a Christmas gift. I will definitely be making this recipe. Thank you, Erica! This book will go near the top of my to-be-read list.

  5. Ohhhhh... how wonderful to find a posting here by Erica Bauermeister. Her experience at the fondue restaurant sounds wonderful.

    I LOVED Erica's book. The first time I read it, I savoured it over several sittings. Then when I finished it, I started at the beginning and read it aloud to my hubby, who also enjoyed it very much.

    It was interesting to read it aloud, as I found hearing the words created a deeper, richer flavour and ambiance.

  6. Yum! Yet another reason to try to talk my husband into taking me to NYC on a business trip with him someday! :) I've never had fondue, and I find it hard to believe I'm saying that because I love cheeses and chocolates. We don't have any fondue restaurants around here, so I may just have to make some myself. Or talk my husband into making some for me - he is definitely the better cook!

  7. Bonnie thank you! What a wonderful post from one of my new favorite authors. Thanks for sharing that with us. I'm gonna have to share the name of that restaurant with my DS and DIL who live in New York. And then maybe I'll have to go visit them soon so I can try it myself. Love that Erica's post was as magic as her book!!

  8. Great post! A fondue restaurant would be wonderful. We used to fondue all the time. I don't know why I quit but wow I used to love it and it was so much fun.

  9. I love fondue! I take everyone who visits us to Melting Pot here, which is our local fondue restaurant...its pricey but delicious.

  10. I HAVE to get my hands on this book! :)

  11. Wonderful post! The restaurant sounds amazing.

  12. That sounds fantastic!!! I loved this book and erica is wonderful. Thanks!


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